Below Deck Mediterranean viewers are always curious about how the show is cast or what happens behind the scenes. Anastasia Surmava from Below Deck Med recently offered a few insights into how she was cast on the show, plus dished about which charter guest was her favorite.
She also discussed what it was like to be on a reality show and whether she truly experienced extreme anxiety when she assumed the chef role or if it was for the cameras.
Surmava told the Out in the Wild podcast she comes from a true yachtie background. She got into yachting after graduating from college with a degree in nuclear medicine. She did seasons in both the Caribbean and the Mediterranean. Then Below Deck Med caught her eye.
The casting process is lengthy
Surmava said a friend received a direct message from a casting agent about the show. Her friend told her she’d never do the show, but Surmava was definitely interested. She reached out directly to the casting agent and got the ball rolling.
While the casting agent responded to her immediately, the process took about seven months before Surmava knew she was going to be cast. She added that she had never seen Below Deck but her mother was a huge fan. Also, “People would come on our yacht and be like, ‘Oh is your life like on Below Deck?’ I was like, ‘I have no idea ma’am, I don’t have a television.’ But my mom was a huge fan of the show,” Surmava recalls. When Surmava considered going on the show she says her mother was extremely supportive.
After the initial contact with the casting producer, Surmava went through several rounds of interviews. “I went through rounds of interviews, like going up the ranks of producers and directors,” she says. “This was all over Skype.” She adds,” There would be months where I wouldn’t hear from them. And I would be like, ‘Oh I guess I didn’t get it.’ And then I’d get an email all of a sudden like, ‘Hey can you do an interview in like two days?'”
Why no reunion?
Surmava says the real reason this season didn’t get a reunion was that they shot more episodes than ever. “We did 18 episodes which is the most that’s ever done,” she says. “The reunion is usually the 18th episode. But we’ve done a full 18 episode season.”
The filming timeline took about six weeks, which is why Surmava says the crew was so exhausted toward the end. “You can see if on our faces as well,” she says. “We’re exhausted. We work 15, 16, 17, 18 hours a day.” She adds the workday on Below Deck Med was no different than what she would have put in on a yacht outside the show.
“Yachties are used to those hours but you’re not used to having cameras filming your worst moments,” she adds. Surmava said it only took about two days for her to forget the cameras were following her too.
She experienced significant stress as the chef
Surmava is filmed telling Captain Sandy Yawn she was overwhelmed with stress when she decided to step down from being the chef. “There is a lot of sh*t that happened,” she says. “I mean, I got a promotion. My captain who’s worked with so many chefs said, ‘Hey you’ve got this.’ So I was like, ‘Hell yeah, I’m gonna give this a go.’ So you know, what? I tried.”
“It’s like what chef Ben says. It’s one of the hardest jobs in the world,” she continues. “You can see our galley. We had so many issues with the burners. Do you know how many times I had engineers come and try to fix these burners? There’s so much stuff that happens behind the scenes that you don’t see.”
With all the issues, she says, “I didn’t have the experience necessary to carry on for the rest of the season. And I had never experienced anxiety like that in my entire life.” That’s when she approached Yawn and said she couldn’t do it anymore. “That was all real,” she adds.
Who was her favorite guest?
It’s no surprise that the Funsch family were her favorite guests. The family also included singer Ashley Brinton who shot a fun video while on charter. The Funsch family also raved about Surmava’s food, plus gave the team the largest tip Below Deck Med has seen … $27,000.
“Best guest for me anyway there is this young pop star Ashley, they were so sweet,” Surmava recalls. “Everything was like ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and they were so appreciative of everything we did for them. They were just so lovely. And they liked my food so I liked them.”
Surmava adds that the charter guests received a “heavily discounted” rate and most build a full vacation around the few days they are on the yacht. She says most charter guests were also adventuring into the South of France beyond spending time on the yacht.